In A Lonely Place

I listen to a lot of New Order, and I’ve noticed certain phrases that pop up in multiple songs: “in a lonely place”, “this time of night”, “you just can’t believe”. So, naturally, I decided to analyze New Order song lyrics to see what else I could find. I included the song title as part of the lyrics (since New Order often doesn’t) and didn’t consider phrases that spanned multiple lines. I found all the phrases of at least four words that appear in at least two songs. I eliminated near-duplicates and the less interesting. Here they are, along with their songs and the lines they appear in. My favorites are at the top.

As It Is When It Was: The streets are so empty at this time of night
This Time Of Night: This Time Of Night

Face Up: It’s dieing in a lonely place
In A Lonely Place: In A Lonely Place

Confusion: You just can’t believe me
Love Vigilantes: You just can’t believe

Blue Monday: Tell me how does it feel
Someone Like You: How does it feel

In A Lonely Place: How I wish you were here with me now
I’ve Got A Feeling: I’d say it to your face if you were here with me,

State Of The Nation: I think about where we have been
Weirdo: I don’t care where we have been

Bizarre Love Triangle: I get down on my knees and pray
Denial: To fall down on my knees and resume this charade

Angel Dust: With open arms I came to you
Shellshock: I came to you, I called in vain

Face Up: But in the end you lost your friend
Sub-Culture: In the end you will submit
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The Biggest One-Hit Wonder


It’s much easier to define a one-hit wonder than the king of pop: a song by an artist who never hit the charts with another song in their careers. The biggest would be the one that spent the most time at the top of the charts; for my purposes, I’m counting weeks in the top ten. I analyzed my data to find songs by artists who never appeared for another song. However, since I don’t have full weekly top 40 or top 100 data, I had to take the top candidates and manually check for other hits. Here are the top one-hit wonders. Clearly, we have three definite winners; two of them are exactly what I think of when I think “one-hit wonder”.

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Who is the King of Pop?


One of the first questions about pop music that occurred to me was: is Michael Jackson truly the king of pop, as he was often called? If not Michael, who is the true king1 of pop? At an intuitive level, it seemed to me that being the king broke down to two main factors: the king should have the most hit songs of all time, and the king should have been a dominant presence on the charts for many years, such that you could barely listen to pop music without hearing one or another of his or her songs.

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50 Years of Pop Songs

Like many, I was deeply immersed in pop when I was growing up (for me, the 80s). I then abandoned it for more esoteric stuff for a while, spending the 90s mostly listening to industrial, techno, and electronica. In the last ten years or so, I’ve returned to pop with a new appreciation for the genius of a perfectly crafted pop song.

When I came back to pop, I formed a couple of crotchety-old-man theories about how contemporary pop differs from its forebears. I’m a cautious person though, so before ranting about the kids today, I decided to collect some data and test my theories. The result is an exploration of the last 50 years of pop songs. As it happens, I haven’t yet finished my original driving question about pop song meaning; my explorations of “popularity” are linked below.

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